We commend 19th Judicial District Judge William Morvant for ordering the Louisiana State Police to release body camera footage from a November traffic stop in which a state trooper ticketed an off-duty New Orleans police officer for speeding.

The officer, Sgt. Chantelle Davis, is now under investigation by the NOPD for her actions during and after she was cited for speeding on the West Bank Expressway in Jefferson Parish.

LSP officers had complained that Davis was difficult and disrespectful during the stop and had mentioned that she was with NOPD, which raises questions about whether she used her status to get special treatment. State police officials later voided her ticket, and the NOPD officer who supervises Davis, 8th District Commander Nicholas Gernon, is also being investigated for how he handled LSP’s complaint about Davis’ behavior.

State Police officials had argued that releasing the traffic stop video would violate Davis’ privacy, but Morvant directed that the video could be released with small portions redacted to shield moments when her driver’s license and other personal information is visible.

Morvant rejected arguments that releasing such footage could embarrass motorists who don’t act their best when pulled over. He said such shaming might help discourage such bad behavior.

He’s right, of course, and another key point is that law enforcement officers are supposed to behave honorably even when they’re off-duty. That’s why there’s an obvious public interest in this traffic-stop video, and why Morvant’s ruling is a victory for advancing accountability among those sworn to serve and protect us.

— The (Baton Rouge) Advocate

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